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Having an illness like Cystic Fibrosis (CF) brings with it a few obstacles and hurdles. However, it brings a skill set I never knew I needed. Even now, I'm still learning a lot about CF and how it affects my body. You'd think I'd pretty much know everything after 31 years, but honestly, I don't. I wing my life with CF half the time, and that's god's honest truth. I take my medications, do my exercise, carry out my treatments and attend hospital appointments and that's that. As I said though, I may not know entirely everything, but I have a new skill set that only people with CF or any other disability/chronic illness will relate to.

An array of Cystic Fibrosis medication, including Creon and an insulin pen.

Firstly, what is Cystic Fibrosis?

I have talked about CF on numerous occasions on my blog. But it doesn't hurt to re-introduce it again to those possible new readers I have accumulated lately. 

Cystic Fibrosis is a chronic genetic condition that affects the exocrine glands. It means I produce abnormally thick mucus which affects the lungs, digestive system (particularly the pancreas) and sinuses. I was diagnosed when I was six weeks old but I was born with it. 

How does it affect your everyday life?

With having to take 20 medications every day, I'd say CF does impact my life a little! Not only that, I'm working out at least 5 days a week to keep my lungs as strong as possible. So as you can imagine, my life is a little hectic! However, I don't let CF define me as a person or let it take over my life. 

So what skills have you learned from having CF?

As I said earlier, I have gained a new skill set over the last 31 years, particularly since I became an adult. These skills you may or may not relate to, it's just a bit of fun and even a little factual!

A woman using a physiotherapy device called an 'Aerobika'.

These are the skills I've learned from having Cystic Fibrosis:

Learning to have the patience of a saint with GP's - I honestly need the patience of a saint to deal with my GP and in particular, GP's receptionists who think they know it all. Also don't get me started on trying to get through to them on the phone, I've got more chance of speaking to the Pope.

Mastering swallowing multiple pills at once - I try not to do this so much now as I don't think it's entirely safe due to the risk of choking, but the small tablets I can swallow in one go. 

Identifying which arm is the best option to have blood taken from - having Cystic Fibrosis means numerous blood tests at clinic appointments. I always have blood taken from the arm, not the hand. A quick lesson for you here - never have blood taken from the hand - it hurts like hell. 

Mastering the chest x-ray position - shoulders forward, hands on the hips, arms and chest forward, chin on chin rest. Simples.

Pre-planning when I need to order my prescription - especially around bank holidays - I need to order my prescription in advance to make sure I have enough medication. This involves a bit of math, something I am not the best at doing. 

An array of Cystic Fibrosis medication, including Creon and an insulin pen.

Packing perfectly for a hospital inpatient stay - a hospital inpatient stay requires packing the right things and the right amount of clothes, medication etc. Also snacks, they are the most important thing.

Memorising my medication and their dosages and their spelling off by heart - names like Prednisolone, Itraconazole and Azithromycin aren't easy to roll off the tongue. Also, they're not easy to spell either. It's important to know and remember what dosage of medication I'm on, it's dangerous if I don't take the right dose.

Coughing up a bit of phlegm when the physiotherapists ask me for it - if the physiotherapists need a sample on the quick, they're going to get it. 

Figuring out how much Creon I'll need for each meal I eat - I've had to master this skill from a young age. Creon is a medication I take with anything I eat. As my pancreas doesn't function properly and doesn't produce enough enzymes to help digest my food, I need extra enzymes to help, which is where Creon comes in. I have to calculate the amount of Creon I take with the calories in my meal. Again, this involves a lot of math. 

Knowing what food to have or not to have in the hospital - from my personal experience, I stay away from the rice pudding in the hospital, it's not as good as Ambrosia. 

Timing my appointment around finding a car parking space - hospital car parks are busy. As I live 45 minutes from my CF clinic, I have to leave early to get a parking space. Car park rage is a thing guys, especially when you know you'll be late for your appointment. 

This is my skill set from having CF! 

I'd love to know your thoughts on this - can any of you relate or have I missed something? Let me know!

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